WASHINGTON (Jan. 22)
Jewish circles active on behalf of Soviet Jewry expressed concern that the reported arrest of Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov in Moscow today may herald a new drive against dissidents generally in the Soviet Union. This concern seemed to be shared by the State Department.
The Department’s chief spokesman, Hodding Carter, commenting on Sakharov’s arrest, said that “a number of reports from other sources, including Amnesty international, suggest that there has been a heightening crackdown against dissidents including several who have been closely associated with human rights activities in recent months.”
According to a radio report this morning, Sakharov, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and human rights activist, was arrested in a Moscow street. Carter said the arrest was reported in a lass dispatch in the newspaper Isvestia which said Sakharov had been stripped of his state awards for alleged subversive activities.
“We cannot absolutely confirm the report at this time though every indication in a rapidly moving story seems to be that he has been (arrested) and that they (the Soviet authorities) are moving toward more drastic action,” Carter said. He added, “Obviously, Dr. Sakharov’s well-being is of great concern to us.” Asked if Sakharov’s arrest might be in response to the proposed U.S. boycott of the. Olympics or the grain sale embargo, Carter replied, “I cannot speak for Soviet reactions.” Meanwhile, reports here and abroad stated that Soviet authorities had started a widespread roundup of human rights activists to keep them out of public sight during the Olympics, should they take place as scheduled.